Epic Power

Rama defending the ritual ground

In part nine, Ram and Lakshman carry out their defence of Vishvamitra’s ritual against the demonic onslaught and emerge victorious, restoring the prestige of Siddha hermitage

Sage Vishvamitra responded to Rama and Lakshmana's curiosity about the origins of Siddha hermitage by narrating the following tale-

"Sri Ramachandra! This place was once the domicile of Vamana, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The very fact that Lord Vishnu performed penance here indicates that this place is a celebrated one. Even Sage Kashyap found success here. And hence, this place was named as Siddha Hermitage. While Vishnu was in his penance here in the Siddha Hermitage, Emperor Bali, after conquering Indra, the various wind gods, the Siddhas etc., was ruling this kingdom in a righteous manner and became popular in all the three worlds for his magnanimity. The place where Bali lived was known as Mahabalipuram. When Bali was conducting a grand celebration, a great incomparable Vedic ritual, all the gods approached Vishnu and requested him to visit the place of ritual and accomplish a task benefiting the gods. They appealed and requested him to incarnate in the form of a dwarf for effectively dealing with emperor Bali".

Vishvamitra continued, "Meanwhile, the great Sage Kashyap, along with his wife Aditi performed penance for many years for the grace of Lord Srimannaarayana and in response, the Lord appeared to him. Pleased with his devotion, Vishnu asked him to seek any boon that he wants. Kashyap requested Vishnu to be born as his son and save the Devatas from the predominance of emperor Bali. He also requested that the place become popular as Siddha hermitage in the future. Agreeing to his request, Lord Vishnu, in the form of a dwarf was born to Kashyap's wife Aditi known as Vamana. In this dwarfish incarnation, he approached Bali. Dwarf Vamana solicited Bali and received a boon for ownership of territory that could be covered with three of his steps. Vamana occupied the entire universe with his first two steps and for the third step, he used the head of Bali. Then, Vishnu gave the universe to Indra".

"Those who perform penance here will not undergo any stress. I have also benefited from this hermitage. Monsters and demons are causing obstacles to my ritual and they will come here again and must be eliminated. We are now going to my hermitage. That hermitage, as it belongs to me also belongs to you both".

Thus speaking, Vishvamitra led Rama and Lakshmana to his hermitage and entered the place. On entering the hermitage, Vishvamitra was surrounded by the other resident sages who suggested that he may undertake the ritual of solemnity that day itself. Accordingly, Vishvamitra methodically undertook the course of the ritual, controlling his senses.

Rama and Lakshmana safeguarding the ritual

Early in the next morning, the brothers Rama and Lakshmana approached Vishvamitra and inquired thus, "Oh great sage! At what time are those monsters likely to come here to disturb the ritual? If you let us know, then we will effectively safeguard the ritual from them so that the moment is not wasted". As the Sage Vishvamitra was observing a pledge of silence and hence could not reply, the rest of the sages told Rama that the brothers have to safeguard the ritual for six days and nights from that day with utmost caution.

As per the indication of the sages, Rama and Lakshmana vigilantly safeguarded the ritual for six days and nights. On the last night of the ritual, Rama alerted Lakshmana of a possible intrusion by the monsters. Then, a vociferous and terrifying blare was sounded in the night sky. As anticipated, the demons Mareecha and Subhahu came to hinder the ritual. Rama reacted swiftly and used his bow to dispatch the demons at long-range, so as to not disturb his master.

Rama thus made the ritual of Sage Vishvamitra a success. On seeing Rama crushing the monsters and demons who came there to obstruct the ritual, the sages congregated there, worshipped Rama and applauded him. Vishvamitra on completing the ritual said, "Rama! I am fully satisfied and successful. By enthusiastically safeguarding my ritual, you have helped establish the name and fame of this great hermitage once again".

Vishvamitra proceeding to Mithila with Rama and Lakshmana

Rama and Lakshmana woke-up early next morning and after attending to their daily routine, approached and greeted Vishvamitra and other sages present in the hermitage. They told him that they both awaiting further orders from the sage. Replying to Rama and Lakshmana, Vishvamitra said-

"Oh! Ramachandra! A highly prestigious ritual is going to be performed by King Janaka of Mithila. I, along with the other sages am going there. You also come along with us. King Janaka is in possession of an enormous blissful bow that has unimaginable power. Its greatness is unparalleled. Neither gods, nor Gandharvas, nor Asuras, nor Pannagas, nor Kinnaras, nor monsters nor human beings are capable of lifting the bow and pulling the string. Everyone who has tried to handle it has failed miserably. Rama, you will have an opportunity to see it and if possible, lift it to tie its string and also watch Janaka's admirable ritual".

Satisfied with the words of Vishvamitra, the brothers Rama and Lakshmana prepared to accompany him. Vishvamitra bidding farewell to the forest gods, told them that on the accomplishment of Janaka's ritual, he planned to go to the Himalayas.

And so they started on their journey to Mithila. On the way after the sunset, they had a bath in the River Shona and relaxed there that night after performing their evening rituals. Then Rama evincing keen interest on the place where they stayed, enquired about its origin. Vishvamitra started narrating yet another tale.

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